The Department of Landscape Architecture was officially founded in 1969 by Professor Emeritus Richard Haag, although a BLA curriculum had been offered in the College of Built Environments (formerly College of Architecture and Urban Planning) throughout the preceding decade.
Professor Haag served as the Department's first Chair. In 1970 this position was assumed by Professor Robert Buchanan who came to the UW from UC Berkeley and served as Chair for 10 years. In 1982, he was succeeded by Professor Sally Schauman, head landscape architect with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, who then served as Chair for 12 years. Subsequent Chairs, Professors David Streatfield and Iain Robertson, have been appointed from the Department's senior faculty. Under Prof. Robertson's leadership, the number of the department's tenure-track faculty went from 5 to 8. Fritz Wagner, the former Dean of the College of Urban & Public Affairs, University of New Orleans, served as interim Chair from 2005 to 2009. He was succeeded by the current Chair, Professor Jeff Hou who served formerly as the department's Graduate Program Coordinator.
Throughout its 30 year history the Department has grown and developed, adding an MLA program in 1979 and increasing the number of its core and research faculty as well as the number and disciplinary diversity of its Adjunct faculty who are drawn from other departments and colleges across the University. The Department's undergraduate and graduate programs have been fully accredited since 1969 and 1986 respectively, making it one of only 16 programs with both accredited graduate and undergraduate programs in North America.
The growing strengths of the Department have been augmented by the development of College Certificate programs in Urban Design, 1985; Historic Preservation Planning, 1993; and Urban Real Estate and Development, 2000, and the Center for Environment, Education and Design Studies (CEEDS) under the direction of Adjunct LA Professor Dr. Sharon Sutton.
Entry into the Department's programs is competitive. Our BLA program drew its students predominantly from matriculated UW students and Washington State residents. Our MLA program on the other hand attracts students from across the country and internationally-with a majority of international students coming from Pacific Rim nations.
Over the years, the Department has developed a distinctive identity in teaching, research, and public service rooted in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. This identity has been invigorated by the region's dynamic history, its thriving socio-economic culture, and by the University of Washington's successes as one of the nation's top research institutions. The Department has forged robust ties with colleagues throughout the University and with practitioners and alumni in the local professional community to enhance its programs.
Under the leadership of Professor Emeritus Schauman and Adjunct Professor Derek Booth, Director of the Urban Water Resources Center, the Department pioneered research into evolving areas of practice including wetland restoration and landscape planning and design for developing urban watersheds. In the 1980's and 1990's Professor Schauman has received NSF funding, and earned a national reputation, for this innovative work. Professor Emeritus David Streatfield, one of the country's most highly regarded historians of the fields of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, has developed the Department's Italian Landscape Studies program based in the UWs Rome Center in the historic Palazzo Pio.
In the late 1990's, The Department's focus evolved into Urban Ecological Design based on emerging teaching and research strengths and the urgent needs in the environment. It has received increasing recognition for its leadership on emerging landscape design issues and its community-building services in this area. In 2007, the Green Futures Lab was founded by Professor Nancy Rottle following the award-winning Open Space 2100 project that envisioned the future of Seattle in the year 2100. In 2009, Professor Daniel Winterbottom received the ASLA Community Service Award recognizing his leadership of the pioneering Design/Build program established in the department since the mid-1990s.
With a core full-time faculty of 9, the contributions from a changing pool of skilled lecturers selected from the professional community, and over 15 adjunct and affiliate faculty, the Department is poised to build on its historic strengths in the coming decades and contribute to the landscapes and communities of the university, city, region, and world in innovative and engaging ways.